This is the last week of a 5 week series on helping our children be people who change the world. So far we have looked at changing our family and being kind to our immediate family, a must for any world changer. Then we looked at our street/neighbourhood, our town/suburb and our country. This week, the world.
Where do you start. A great place, I believe, is helping our children to understand a bit about research. I like to divide the ways that we can help people in other countries up into a few different categories:
- Education – eg school fees & uniform, sponsoring a teacher, paying for the normal wage that student would earn working for the family so that the family still survives whilst the student in school, literacy support,
- Health – eg vaccines, surgery costs, dental programs, birthing programs,
- Basic needs of water, food and safety – eg water wells, seeds for crop planting,
- Child labour/trafficking – eg funding people rescuing children and women from being trafficked and also starting up alternate work skill programs for them to still earn an income or become educated.
- Income producing – eg work skills and money to start a business, small business loans,
- Evangelism/Gospel – eg solar Bibles, sponsor a Pastor, etc
- Shelter – eg building houses, mosquito nets,
The key is to find which area resonates most with your children and start there. We began years ago with the Mission Christmas catalogues where they listed a donation of eg $20 and you could buy some chooks for a family to start an egg producing business, $100 for a sewing machine to start a small business etc. This had us pouring over the magazines looking at how much money we wanted to spend and what on. This helped us spark the conversation around how people in third world countries live and what we take for granted here in Australia.
We then began sponsoring a child and also a Pastor in third world countries. Friends set up a school in Nepal so for a few years, when the school was being started, we sponsored a teacher, realising that that would affect a whole class of students. Our children have also given money to help eye surgery in various countries and birthing kits to save babies from dying as they were being born. We have paid for solar Bibles in African countries so as to spread the Gospel. We have also realised the effectiveness of mosquito nets when we have travelled overseas, so paid for some of them to be distributed. Christmas shoe boxes through Operation Christmas Child have been a huge hit in our family for years – our children love filling them with delights and essentials for the children they will be given to.
Much research has been done on the fact that if you educate a girl, you change the future of the family. Once educated, girls are more likely than boys to work hard and succeed at getting their family out of poverty.
After we lived in Mozambique for 3 months and before making several trips to Cambodia, we also came up with some different ideas. At one stage, a missionary asked for a million children’s books written in English for Cambodian schools and children’s centres in an effort to help the children learn English. Our daughter when she was 10 years old, undertook the task of collecting over 33,000 books and sending them in a container to Cambodia. We then travelled there and helped to begin to distribute them. The impact on our children has been enormous. I believe that this has helped in their own self-esteem, their resilience, their attitude of life not just revolving around themselves, and an attitude of gratitude. Please hear me. My children are not perfect. There are days when I wish they were more gracious and thankful and thought of others more. But on the whole, I believe that their great perspective on life has been assisted in their having seen some of the situations that other people live in and their being able to help and realise that they can make a difference in the lives of other people.
I have listed above a whole bunch of ideas. Pray and ask God where you could start for your family. Find something that your children can relate to. Then research and find ways of helping children overseas like that. Eg if your children are in to basketball, find a program to help kids learn to play basketball in a third world country where players need sponsorship to be included. An alternatively may be to raise money for a water well for children that have to walk miles for water each day and don’t have time to be able to play at all but have to constantly work.
As always, I would love to hear what has worked for your family in this area.